Friday, 28 September 2012

Scuola and Peaches

The Peach Mountain
Aptly titled I feel, as the last week has been all about, well... school and peaches. For those of you novice farmers or preservers out there, now is the time for the late fruiting peaches and Dougie and I are 'experimenting' with different ways of peach preservation, including bottling, two different ways of freezing and, as was suggested to us at the end of last week, maybe we will even foray into drying (ooo how exciting I hear you cry!) More on the peaches shortly, but I feel I need to update you on the school 'situation' after my verbal outburst in my last but one post!

Josh has settled into his new preschool class unbelievably well. Each morning he looks for his little buddy Jacobo (pronounced Yacobo) and they chatter away to each other, Josh in English and Jacobo in Italian. Neither of them seems to notice or, more to the point, care that they don't understand each other. As us mothers of 3 year olds out there know, at 3 it is most definitely all about 'me,me,me!'

The School Run
The School Run
And so to Jake. Well, I am now on first name terms with Luigi, the school caretaker, who brings me a seat to sit on outside Jake's classroom every morning and then pops down 30 minutes later with a stand your spoon up in it treacle thick espresso coffee for me, each time reassuring me with 'its normal, its normal, don't worry he'll be fine in a few weeks'. Such a lovely man.

We have been leaving Jake a few minutes earlier each day, and day by day he is becoming less traumatised at the thought of being left. Although he still cries every day, he is crying for shorter lengths of time and seems resigned to the fact that he hasn't got a choice but to stay at school! We have (unlike some people I know that moved to a different area of Italy at Christmas) been overwhelmingly supported by the other parents. Each day they ask us how Jake is getting on and tell us everyday it will be fine in time...'Piano, Piano' is the mantra (slowly, slowly). It seems literally nothing is allowed to happen fast here in Italy - except perhaps the driving! 

Unfortunately, knowing Jake will be fine in a few weeks / a couple of months and that moving here is absolutely the best thing for us as a family in the long run, doesn't stop you feeling like the worst parent in the world for putting him through this! 

And so back to the peaches, we are inundated from every direction. We have such kind and generous neighbours that we have now managed to bottle up 15 litre jars of peaches to see us through the winter season. On top of this, we have more peaches than we can eat between us and they keep coming! More jam I hear you cry...well maybe we will do just that!!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Good from the bad.

My two favourite quotes from the episode of school day 2:

"Don't worry about crying...everyone in Italy cries, everyone is allowed to cry, we are used to it!" Jake's English teacher.

"Stay, stay as long as you want, don't worry. We had one dad who stood outside the classroom door for a month. It turns out, he was the one that was insecure and had to keep coming - his son was absolutely fine!!" Jake's class teacher.

School Day 2 is NOT a good day!

So, of course, it had to be too good to be true! Day 2 was meltdown for Jake...and for me! Poor Jake was incredibly distraught at being left in this new school, that was so different to everything he knew before, with no friends and understanding almost nothing. After an hour of trying to calm Jake down and reason with him that it was just a few hours, that it was ok to miss us, that it didn't matter if he didn't understand everything, that the other boys and girls were new too and didn't know anyone...all the while he was beside himself and telling me he didn't want me to leave, it all became too much for me too. 

Meanwhile, Dougie had been to drop off Josh at pre-school, who went happily off, and was waiting for me in the car. Queue problem number 1: As Mum (me) and son (Jake) both walk bawling their eyes out to the front door of the school - Jake in the hope that I was taking him home (I wasn't) and me in the hope of finding Dougie to stay with Jake while I regained my composure (!) I get stopped at the front door by a woman I had never seen before, but had a very stern 'I am not to be messed with' face, and flanked by the school caretaker, to be told I cannot take my son out of the is the law!  I wanted to walk 3 metres out of the school gate to where the car was parked to get my husband I explained in my best possible Italian, through the sniffles and the complete loss of any sense of perspective...but she wasn't having it! After trying to explain my position and a lot more crying, and quite frankly getting nowhere, I was told if I insisted on leaving with my child I would need to fill in the necessary paperwork (oh yes, welcome to bureaucratic Italy). "Fine," I say. "Get me the paperwork I will sign anything you want, although it does seem ridiculous as we will be back in in 30 seconds!" 

Queue problem number 2: "Oh no," she says. "Once you have signed all the paperwork to take your child out of school, he cannot come back in again!" "But I only want to get my husband," I say. "All my sons things are still in the classroom." (More bawling and emotional outburst...from me!!) It was at this very moment I wondered what on earth we had done coming here.

Queue knightess in shining armourThe very friendly, lovely lady from reception came to see what was going on. Seeing both Jake and I so distraught, and reiterating that it is the law a child can not leave the school without the copious form filling, but could she go and see if my husband was there? Si, si, si, per favore, grazie, (I love you I would have cried if I hadn't been...well...crying!) of course you can.

In comes Dougie, takes one look at me and Jake and says "I knew it was bad when you still weren't out after an hour!" So, being the calm and composed one, Dougie took Jake back off to the classroom while I took some time out to get myself together. Then we spend the next hour and a half inside and then outside of the classroom door, slowly trying to make our presence less obvious, but nevertheless still noticeable until Jake is reassured enough for us to leave him. Both of us emotionally exhausted and preoccupied as to whether our son was going to be ok, we sat in the coffee shop next to the school trying and failing to take our minds off things.

Jake's comment when I went back to pick him up from school and I asked how it was: ", it wasn't great, it was brilliant!"

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The first day of School.

All smiles...little did they know!!
Still smiling
Jake off like a rocket

The traditional Italian 'Grembiule'

The boys' new school
Mama Mia! Today was by far the most stressful and emotional day of our time here ever. Heating breaking down when it is minus 6 outside, no running water because it has been so cold even the underground mains pipe has frozen, fire in the pellet boiler 30 minutes before guests arrive to rent the apartment...none of this has even a patch on today's major event of taking the boys to school in Italy for the first time. Dougie and I both felt sick walking up the hill to school, and then even sicker when we left the boys in their respective classrooms. I had abandoned my beautiful children, both of whom I had spent years protecting and nurturing, into a world where they knew no-one and couldn't even ask the most basic questions. At that moment and for the few hours that followed, I  was the worst mum in the world. How did they cope I hear you was like water off a duck's back. For four and a half hours Dougie and I were emotional wrecks, while our children were blissfully unaware and just getting stuck in in this new and very alien environment. I have just two words to sum up how they were 'simply amazing'!!


It just wouldn't have been right to round up the summer without blogging about Ferragosta. 15th August is a catholic holiday for the ascension of Mary. In Italy this involves family, good friends and lots of food with a splash (or two in our case!) of wine for good measure...and I mean lots of food! This year we had an amazing ferragosta, and although our family were not able to share it with us, we spent the day with great friends. A big thank you to the three generations of the Conti family and to our new friends, the Sharman family, for making our day such a special one. It truly was a feast to be proud of, set up under the walnut trees! can come back and cook for us anytime, everything you created in the apartment kitchen  that we sampled was delicious. Tina...never let it be said that a barbecue is a man's domain. You put them all to shame!! Plus the pavlova was 'ottimo'!

Summer Round Up

So, this summer has been an exciting one for our family and the photos show some of the moments we have enjoyed in our new home. The delivering of the hay bale for the chickens, our first egg, making English muffins (because you can't buy them here and there is no better way to eat home made jam than on a toasted muffin with a cup of tea even if it   is 38 degrees!),  delivery of one of Dougie's new toys...yes men, that is an instruction manual he's reading!!, prettying up the home made jam and baking bread to name but a few. The autumn months are creeping up and so is the grape harvest, so I'm sure there will be many more exciting moments to come.

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Waiting Game Pays Off

Today is a good day! We have received a router and we have received a quote for the solar panels. Just the builder to come and finish the arch properly now will make our week!

Sunday, 9 September 2012


Hmmm, the arch! The coloseum it might not be, but we want our Italian pad to be as authentic as poss, so we decided to turn the gaping hole into an authentic cantina. This is where the wine will now be kept when we harvest ... making room for the double en suite in the original cantina for friends and family to make use of! Grazie Marcello per il lavoro!

The gals

The poor, scared birds have gone from strength to strength. To such an extent that they complain to us every time we go past if they are not let out in the garden! Free range? Yeah baby...

Quick catch up

So, tonight is a round up of all the things that we have been doing over the summer. No. 1 is making plum jam, from the plums (or green gages...we're not sure) at the end of the garden. It is really nice to be able to give something back(albeit small!) to our Italian neighbours that have looked after us so well for the last 6 years as we have been to-ing and fro-ing,...and they seem to like the jam!

Lesson of the week!

So, this week's lesson is: when in Italy learn to wait! This week we are waiting for: the solar panel quote (due in last Thursday), Marcello to finish the arch (due last Friday), the internet router (due Saturday). Funny thing is, none of it is essential to life...we still carry on regardless!!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Two Months In!

So...I thought it was about time I started this blog I have been talking about for so long. We have been here two months today and what a whirlwind it has been so far. Guests coming and going at the apartment, bread making, jam making, buying chickens, tending vines setting up our veg patch, loads of gardening and trying to set up the day to day - phones, internet, residency, job. All under the blazing sun (hottest summer on record). We are well on our way although we have some way to go yet. The next big event will be the boys starting school, me starting my new job and the grape harvest for the wine. Watch this space...there will be photos to come!!